Hayden The Routt County Junior Livestock Sale grossed nearly $270,000 this year, exceeding the 2006 sale by almost $10,000, a Routt County Fair official said Sunday.
Jay Whaley of the Routt County Cooperative Extension Office said the sale of 128 animals - including market steers, lambs, chickens, rabbits, and pigs - amounted to purchases totaling $267,285 on Saturday night at the Routt County Fair in Hayden. The sales eclipsed totals from 2006, when 115 animals were sold for total purchases of $258,889.
Whaley said one reason for the difference was higher prices for market steers, which sold for an average of $4,181 - much higher than last year's average steer price of $3,564. Most of those extra dollars will help numerous Routt County teenagers pay for college tuition, save some money or continue purchasing and selling livestock.
Whaley said 4-H teens who participate in the livestock sale are required to write two "personal letters of invite" to potential buyers. While some teens simply mail the letters, Whaley said, others deliver them personally and build relationships with buyers that can really pay off at the annual sale. While Whaley said high prices on many sales could be attributed to those personal relationships, he credited all of the 4-H participants and buyers from across Routt County in making this year's sale a success.
"When the community supports these kids with 270,000 bucks, that's pretty amazing," Whaley said Sunday, as ranchers and local youth cleaned up stalls, shoveled hay or loaded animals onto trailers at the fairgrounds.
"More than a quarter of a million dollars went through here last night," Whaley mused.
Some of that money went to South Routt teen Kelsey Samuelson, who sold her reserve grand champion market steer for $3,500 to The Industrial Company.
After the sale Saturday night, Kelsey got another surprise Sunday.
The 17-year-old is the 2007 Routt County Fair Queen, a title she has held since the 2006 fair. But unlike her predecessor, Kelsey did not hand off her crown on the fair's last day.
After a closed-door meeting that lasted nearly two hours, adults involved in organizing the contest could not agree on a 2008 queen.
"They made a decision to postpone the coronation of a new queen until November," said Karen Massey of the Extension Office, citing judging difficulties and adding that Kelsey will continue as queen for the next three months.
A more lighthearted moment occurred at the fair earlier Sunday morning, when all three Routt County commissioners and Hayden Mayor Pro-tem Chuck Grobe judged a brownie contest in Exhibition Hall. In a display of governmental unity, all four judges awarded the top prize to Tresa Moulton of Steamboat Springs.
"It's a recipe I clipped from the Washington Post in the '70s," Moulton said. "The secret is in the baking time."
She may have some competition in the future. Ten-year-old Nathan Anderson of Steamboat entered a batch of mint brownies in the contest, and while they didn't place, Nathan said he had fun making them and cooking with his family.
"My favorite part was mixing up the fudge," he said.
Steamboat resident Lisa Williams, who won "best in show" in the baked goods category for her sourdough rye, said she values cooking and craftsmanship and hopes to see more entrants in home arts categories when the fair resumes next summer.
"A lot of my friends love a nice, warm loaf of bread," Williams said. "There's nothing better."